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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Sequence analysis of the S RNA of the African arenavirus Mopeia: an unusual secondary structure feature in the intergenic region.

Mopeia virus is an apparently nonpathogenic African arenavirus which can protect animals from subsequent challenge by the closely related Lassa virus. As a step toward understanding these differences in pathogenicity and the means by which Mopeia virus infection can protect against subsequent Lassa virus infection, cDNA clones corresponding to 3419 nucleotides of Mopeia virus S RNA were isolated and sequenced. Two open reading frames, encoding the glycoprotein precursor (GPC) and nucleocapsid (N) proteins, were located in the ambisense arrangement characteristic of the arenaviruses. Comparison of the amino acid sequences of the translation products with those of two Lassa virus strains showed considerable conservation, with 74 and 80% identity for the two glycoproteins G1 and G2, and 74% identity for the N protein. The putative dibasic site of GPC cleavage (R-R) was conserved, as were the potential N-linked glycosylation sites. A striking difference between Mopeia virus and Lassa virus was identified in the noncoding intergenic region. Instead of the single hairpin structure formed by base-pairing of complementary sequences which is usually found, the Mopeia virus S RNA has the potential to form two hairpins. These hairpins were similar in sequence and may have been formed in a duplication event during RNA replication. The possible contribution of this secondary structure feature to differences in pathogenicity between Mopeia and Lassa viruses is discussed.[1]


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